Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Pope's red shoes

The news is filled with opinions regarding the Pope as he trades his red shoes for a pair of brown loafers. (Are they from Wolverine World Wide?) That, not necessarily being as important as his resignation seems to me to get a bit too much air time. We are witnessing an event which hasn't happened in many centuries and although not catastrophic, signals a change of the guard for millions of Catholics. Regardless of faith affiliation, almost everyone in the world knows who the pope is and how keenly he is observed when it comes to religious leadership. Commentators from each end of the spectrum and everywhere in between offer their own spin on the effect this will have on the church. Interesting too, how so many that have no connection whatsoever to Peter's direct successor or a religious affiliation of their own feel they are knowledgeable enough to make such an infinite amount of assumptions. From laughing at the idea of such traditions as the red shoes, to offering advice as to how the next pope should direct the faithful. Arm chair coaches. We all have a tendency to be one of those from time to time don't we?

Today, as person of faith, I meditate on just how small and often insignificant I am in the scope of things. It would be easy for me to criticise the red shoes, they aren't really fashionable in my eyes. But then, they aren't meant to be, possibly they are meant to be shocking in some way, just like the pope. What would I do if I walked in his shoes for a time? How seriously would I take the tenets of God's own church? In my opinion, Pope Benedict is doing an incredibly unselfish thing. So often leaders simply hang on and on, well past their ability to be effective, essentially becoming simply a figurehead. The pope is not a figurehead. The faith of millions of catholics around the world is not based upon a man wearing red shoes. To us catholics, faith is based on the beliefs of rights and wrongs given to us over 2000 years ago by Jesus Christ. The popes down through the centuries along with the other leaders of the church, have been the protectors of those beliefs in a world of conflict and and diverse cultural perspectives. That is the immense responsibility of the office of pope in a nutshell. Red shoes or not, that's a heavy weight to carry. Pope Benedict saw his inability to carry on that tradition and acted on it. I admire that. We need someone strong, mentally, physically and especially spiritually.

Today I pray for Pope Benedict to have peace and be confident in his decision. Today I ask for God to give the College of Cardinals divine inspiration to bring us the spiritual leader we need. Someone to protect the truth with all the resources available. Someone to cleanse the church and make it Holy. Someone who is not afraid to wade into controversy and remain true to the word. Our faith is not based on a man in red shoes, our faith is based on the truth. Some things are right, some things are wrong. Pope Benedict sees that too. By resigning he is doing his part in moving God's own Church forward as it should. I look forward to seeing just who's feet those shoes go on now. History in the making. For now, I will sit down, shut up, and hang on. All those commentators will certainly have much to say about it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Spring cleaning vs taxes

Personally, I grab the opportunity to clean my surroundings every Spring. Not quite so enthusiastically I also grab at doing my taxes. But they both have to be done so I divide my time between the two so as to maintain a reasonable amount of sanity. The Spring cleaning involves throwing stuff away that I saved for one purpose or another and every time I start to pitch an item I have to go through a whole mental scrubbing or I'll throw away something I need and can't replace. Yesterday I took on my computer software collection. Over the years an accumulation of programs and accessories built to massive proportions due to a swinging door of one antiquated computer after another. I think I found a floppy disk containing Windows 1978. Well, maybe not quite but almost. The computers are gone, however I felt a need to keep that junk, just in case! Putting my fears aside I waded through and filled one box after another to send to the recyclers and put them in the truck for dropping off on the way home. I really made a dent in the pile of useless materials. Finally the drawers, cabinets and shelves were cleared and tidy. Ready for a new influx of computer brick a brack I didn't know what to do with but was afraid to throw away. Feeling quite victorious after such a major accomplishment I set myself to attacking the year end tax situation. Things were going quite well for about an hour, then I came across an empty packet where some extremely vital information was supposed to be. It dealt with the tax record bookkeeping computer program I was working on. I was struck speechless. Where was the information? Ah, it was still lodged in the computer, I simply forgot to print it out I guess. I opened the drawer where the memory backup for the program was located, at least that was where it was supposed to be. Not there! Panic time! I had just cleaned that drawer and thrown out all kinds of stuff. Did I throw out that too? I looked everywhere in that area. Not there! I looked again. Not there! Oh my goodness, it must be in the truck, I thought. I proceeded to take everything back out of the truck, one box at a time, remove the entire contents, going through each and every piece. I examined the whole lot. After an hour and a half of searching, Not there! Vital information needed for completing my taxes was missing and looking more and more like it is gone. I had searched every possible location. I could not for the life of me remember where I could possibly have placed it. Woe is me, woe is me. All is lost........................!

Not being one to sit idly by and feel sorry for myself, I decided to take action and began the process of creating an entirely new, hand written record of transactions I needed to complete my taxes. I opened the drawer I originally thought the back up program was in and the entire program and packet of information fell from behind the divider that was stuck to the handle. Just another day in the life of a pack rat. All better now. I wish you a much less complicated day.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sequester or fiscal cliff?

Nothing on television sit-coms is as hilarious as the action, or as often,  inaction of people in charge of huge amounts of money. Especially, if it isn't theirs in the first place. Numerous headlines seem to appear almost daily regarding the mishandling and embezzling carried by financial officers and accountants. A few dollars here, a half million there and soon an unknowingly and trusting company is bankrupt with large groups of employees losing their jobs and added to the unemployment roles while the embezzler gets a few years in the slammer and public service taking care of poor people. I guess hilarious is probably not the correct word. Sad maybe, extortion, terrorism, theft, inept, careless, the list could go on and on. The fact remains that when certain people are put in charge over other people's money their brains seem to turn to mush and nobody can make the appropriate decisions. When an accountant embezzles money the motives are clear. When an official is careless the motives are less obvious. Most often officials get all caught up in some sort of power game struggle. Impact at the expense of those depending on them. In relative terms it is basically dictatorial behaviour. Dictators, in the United States of America? Yup! Just try and hold an elected official responsible. Just try and get Congress, the Senate or even the President to put off a vacation, even in the most dire financial crisis and see if it has any affect. Nope! They will go away and play anyway. Ask any of them to actually admit some of the resulting difficulties may in fact be partially their fault. Not a chance.

Whatever happens with the financial situation we are in at this moment, we'll work it out. Americans are a resilient people. Some of this may not be easy but if it doesn't bankrupt us it'll make us stronger. Maybe it'll work in the same way that Chemo and Radiation therapy works against cancer. When we vote in any future elections it's our vote that is the Chemo or the Radiation needed to rid us of the cancer of irresponsibility. Meanwhile, no reason to panic. That won't stop me from bellyaching though. Some things remain constant throughout history. If you drink from a glass of water and do not refill it, it will eventually dry up. If you deplete the well you drink from you are in real trouble. The moral: Take care of the well and don't blame the guy that owns the well for the water you took.

Hah! Just figure that one out. Kind of hilarious isn't it?
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